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Hydrilla is becoming a major headache for some in Virginia waters. Read 
more about tliegood, bad, and ugly faces of aquatic vegetation beginning 
on page 3; photo by Dunght Dyke. 

Cover: C. E. Howdyshell, Jr. is keeping the spirit of the 
mountain man and the tradition of blackpowder hunting 
alive in Virginia. Turn to page 12 for details; photo by 
Dunght Dyke. Back cover: White-tailed deer; photo by 
Bill Lea. 


3 Aquatic Vegetation by William B. Kittrell, Jr. 
Hydrilla: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 

8 More on Good, Bad and Uglies 

by Rick Eades and Ed Steinkoenig 

The rest of the story about aquatic vegetation. 

1 2 The Spirit of Hunting by Bob Gooch 

hi Augusta County, C.E. Howdyshell is being true to 
the tradition of blackpowder hunting. 

1 7 Virginia Wildlife Gallery 

A look at die art of Dennis Burkhart 

20 Prime Time Fishing by Harry Murray 

Fall is die time to fly fish for trout 

24 a Traditional Bow Hunter by Steve Ausband 
Dr. Bill McCarty of Halifax County has taken a 
traditional approach to bow hunting seriously, and 
has the results to show for it 

October Journal 

28 News 32 Habitat 

31 Boating Safety 33 Recipes 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 








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by William B.Kittrell, Jr. 

Perhaps no other topic con- 
jures up as much emotion 
among anglers, boaters, and 
property owners as does hydrilla. 
Avid fishermen see the satisfying 
image of a plastic worm fluttering 
down the edge of a hydrilla mat into 
the mouth of a hungry bass. Recre- 
ational boaters feel the frustration of 
leaning over the transom of their 
boats wliile straining to tear a tan- 
gled mess from the propeller. 
Homeowners fear the possibility of 
falling property values as they gaze 
across a green carpet of hydrilla ad- 
jacent to their boat docks. 

Each has a decidedly different 
point of view, and each will readily 
share his or her opinion on the sub- 
ject. As a fisherman, recreational 
boater and homeowner, I under- 
stand their concerns. As a biologist 
and resource manager, 1 feel the anx- 
iety of often being caught in the 

cross fire between opposing view- 

To understand this ever-growing 
and controversial debate, one must 
first understand hydrilla. What is 
hydrilla, and where did it come 
from? Hydrilla (Hi/drilln verticillata) 
is an exotic species of aquatic vegeta- 
tion native to warmer regions of the 
world such as Asia, Africa and 
South America. Since its discovery 
in Florida in 1960, hydrilla has 
spread rapidly throughout the 
Southeast and as far north as Mary- 
land and Delaware. Virginia didn't 
escape the invasion, and major in- 
festations can be found in the Po- 
tomac River, Lake Anna, Lake Gas- 
ton and Buggs Island Lake. 

There is evidence of at least two 
hydrilla introductions into the Unit- 
ed States because at least two differ- 
ent forms occur. The introduction 
into Florida was thought to have 
been made by the aquarium indus- 
try, interested in the plant as a sales 

Hydrilla can be an angler's dream or a boater's 
worst nightmare (top). An aggressive exotic, it 
reproduces easily from fragments, tubers 
(middle), floivers (above), and turions. 


item. This population is female, as 
are all populations observed as far 
north as South Carolina. All popula- 
tions above South Carolina (includ- 
ing Virginia) tend to be monoecious 
(both male and female flowers on 
the same plant). 

HydriUa can be difficult to identi- 
fy. Its appearance can vary consider- 
ably under different growing condi- 
tions, and it is easily confused with 
Brazilian elodea and common 
elodea which occur throughout Vir- 
ginia. Hydrilla grows submerged in 
water and generally is rooted to the 
bottom, although fragments break 
loose and survive in a free floating 
state. Erect stems can grow quite 
long (easily reaching 10-15 feet) in 
Virginia's clearer waters. Branching 
is usually sparse until the plant ap- 
proaches the water's surface, then 
branching can become profuse. 
Leaves on the stem form whorls 
with usually more than 3 leaves per 
whorl. The leaf edges have sharp 
teeth, and tiny spines occur on the 
underside of the leaf midrib. Be- 
cause of this, hydrilla often feels 
coarse when drawn through the fin- 
gers. Hydrilla produces vegetative 

moderate densities, it increases the 
amount of fish habitat by providing 
cover and nursery areas for small 
fish and invertebrates. This in turn 
creates feeding areas which attract 
larger predators such as largemouth 
bass and chain pickerel. Any bass 
angler worth his salt will tell you 
that submerged structure holds fish, 
whether it's a sunken tree or vegeta- 
tion. In hydrilla, fish are typically 
concentrated along the edges of hy- 
drilla mats or in holes or pockets 
often found in newly developing in- 
festations. Taking advantage of this 
fact can increase an angler's catch. 

Submerged aquatic vegetation 
constitutes the principal source of 
food for waterfowl. Hycirilla, when 
available, is readily eaten by water- 
fowl. Like other aquatic plants, hy- 
drilla produces oxygen through 
photosynthesis, stabilizes sediment, 
stores nutrients and retards algal 
blooms. Several of these attributes 
tend to clear the water where the in- 
festation occurs. In degraded sys- 
tems which are devoid of vegeta- 
tion, the addition of any plants can 
be positive. On the Potomac River, 
for example, significant improve- 

reproductive structures called turi- 
ons and tubers which can also help 
to identify the species. 

The Good 

Hydrilla, like native aquatic 
plants, can provide beneficial func- 
tions in the aquatic environment. At 

Noli' the diftcrciice betzveen the smooth leaf 
edges of elodea (left) and toothed leaf edges of 
In/drilla (right). Tliese two species are often 
confused with one another. 

ments in the aquatic ecosystem as- 
sociated with hydrilla and other 
ac^uatic plants have been reported. 

The Bad 

On the other hand, hydrilla could 
probably be characterized as the 
aquatic version of kudzu. All aquat- 
ic plants have adapted to life in the 
water, but hydrilla seems to be far 
ahead of the rest. Hydrilla has the 
potential to grow up to one inch per 
day under optimum conditions. 

As it nears the water's surface, it 
branches profusely. This characteris- 
tic allows it to intercept 95% of the 
sunlight in the top one foot of the 
water column, thereby shading out 
other ac^uatic plants. Tliis effectively 
eliminates many beneficial native 
plants such as ponciweeds and eel- 
grass. The result is often a monotyp- 
ic (one species) plant community 
made up solely of hydrilla. 

A reduction of species diversity 
of this kind is never good for an 
ecosystem. As hydrilla reaches the 
surface, it can "top out," forming a 
dense mat which is virtiially impen- 
etrable to boats and swimmers. In 
excessive amounts, hydrilla can in- 
terfere with fisliing, foul shorelines, 
create a breeding ground for 
mosquitos, and reduce water stor- 
age capacities. In some cases, hy- 
drilla can degrade water quality as 
large mats decompose. Tliese same 
mats, upon breaking loose from the 
bottom, have been responsible for 
expensive operational shutdowns at 
hyciroelectric facilities across the 

Hydrilla is very efficient at repro- 
ducing and surviving under ad- 
verse conditions. It can reproduce in 
four different ways: by fragmenta- 
tion, tubers, turions, and seeds. A 
tiny fragment can potentially sprout 
a new plant. This means that small 
amounts on boat tiailers, live wells, 
or dumped from aquariums can eas- 
ily spread the plant from one loca- 
tion to another. 

Tubers are specialized pea-sized 
structures which can withstand ad- 
verse conditions such as cold-water 
temperatiires in the winter and dry- 
ing out during the summer. Then, 
when conditions are favorable 
again, a new plant will emerge. Turi- 
ons are compact dormant buds pro- 
duced at the base of leaves, falling 


from the plant when they mature. 

All these characteristics mean 
that hydrilla can rapidly spread 
throughout infested waters. For ex- 
ample, in 1985, 12 acres of hydrilla 
were known to exist in Lake Gaston. 
By 1993, these 12 acres had expand- 
ed to 1,425 acres. Most of this 
acreage is near the shoreline or in rel- 
atively shallow water. This also hap- 
pens to be the place where most 
recreationists converge. Although 
there are other species of exotic 
aquatic vegetation that can cause 
problems, hydrilla is one bad plant. 

The Ugly 

Since hydrilla is an exotic species, 
there are few naturally occurring 
limiting factors. This, combined 

close to water intakes, navigation 
trails in dense mats, or when imme- 
diate results are required. The main 
disadvantage is the high cost, which 
could escalate up to $2,000 /acre. In 
addition, this method is ineffective 
in shallow water where stumps and 
debris cover the bottom. Also, since 
fragmentation causes hydrilla to 

spread, all the solid waste that is cut 
has to be disposed of in an appropri- 
ate manner. Plus, juvenile fish and 
aquatic invertebrates often are re- 
moved with the hydrilla. Finally, 
this method is labor intensive, and 
only a few acres can be mowed each 
day. Hydrilla can easily regrow 
what has been lost to harvesting, 
and multiple cuttings may be neces- 
sary in a single season. 

Chemical control involves the use 
of approved aquatic herbicides to 
kill hydrilla. Chemicals are com- 
monly used by authorities to man- 
age and control undesirable sub- 
merged aquatic plants across the 
United States. A large area can be 
treated with herbicides rather 
quickly and effectively at a much 
lower cost than mechanical meth- 
ods. And, desired results can occur 

The down side to aquatic herbi- 
cides is that there are water-use re- 
strictions associated with their use. 
In addition, as is the case with har- 
vesting, the results are usually tem- 
porary and reapplication would 
probably be required the 
following year. 
also require a 

contact time 

with hydrilla' s tremendous repro- 
ductive and growth capabilities, 
makes it extremely difficult to con- 
trol. Currently, there are only three 
methods of control that are effective 
on a large scale. These methods are 
mechanical, chemical and biologi- 
cal. Each has its advantages and dis- 

The mechanical method usually 
involves a harvester of some form 
cutting the hydrilla off below the 
water's surface. This is a good alter- 
native when other methods cannot 
be used. Examples where this 
method would be effective are areas 

The map above details the counties with waters 
in which major hydrilla infestations exist: 
Potomac River, Lake Anna (photo above), Lake 
Gaston, and John H. Kerr Reserz'oir (Buggs 
Island Lake). (Although the infestation at Kerr 
Reserz'oir is relatively small at 8 acres, it was 
included because of its potential for expansion.) 
The introduction of sterile grass carp (top) into 
infested waters is sometimes an effective tool at 
controlling hydrilla. Right: Hydrilla can spread 
easUy through fragmentation, thus it is 
important to dispose of cut hydrilla properly. 

and cannot be used in flowing 
water. Therefore, best results are 
usually achieved in quiet waters 
where little or no water exchange oc- 
curs. (Note: Only licensed commer- 
cial applicators should ever at- 
tempt to use aquatic herbicides. 
There are penalties associated with 
herbicide misuse, and any fish 
kills or other environmental dam- 
age that could result from their 

Biological control encompasses 
several strategies which use agents 


Additional Sources of 
Information about Hydrilla: 

Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries 

Fish Division 

4010 W. Broad Street 

Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104 

Hydrilla: A Rapidly Spreading Aquatic Weed 

in North Carolina 

Publication AG-449 

North Carolina Cooperative Exteiision Service 

North Carolina State University 

Raleigh, North Carolina 27695 

Hydrilla: A Continuing Problem in Florida Waters 
Circular No. 884 
Cooperative Extension Service 
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 
Uruversity of Florida 
Gainesville, Florida 32606 

are long-term control and afford- 
ability. However, the fish is vora- 
cious and will consume many types 
of submerged and some emergent 
aquatic vegetation. Escapement is a 
possibility, and there is some con- 
cern that these long-lived fish could 
cause damage to natural ecosys- 
tems. Stocking rates for partial con- 
trol have not been well established; 
therefore, triploid grass carp are in- 
frequently used in large, multipur- 
pose lakes where aquatic vegetation 
is desirable for sportfish and water- 
fowl habitat. 

The best management plan for an 
infested water body may involve 
one or more of these control options. 
Every body of water is different and 
what works on one system may not 
work on another. The Department of 

such as insects, fish, and diseases 
which naturally suppress hydrilla. 
The most commonly used biological 
control is the triploid grass carp or 
white amur. This sterile, herbivo- 
rous fish is routinely used in Vir- 
ginia by private pond owners to 
control submerged vegetation prob- 

Hydrilla is a preferred food of the 
grass carp, and a high stocking rate 
can result in complete eradication. 
The advantages of using grass carp 

Game and Inland Fisheries recog- 
nized this fact, and in conjunction 
with the Department of Environ- 
mental Quality, cieveloped a state- 
wide hydrilla management plan. 
This plan describes in detail prob- 
lem infestations across the Com- 
monwealth and prescribes specific 
control strategies for each area. 

Nevertheless, the controversy 
among user groups is growing be- 
cause each views hydrilla in a differ- 
ent way. Some people like hydrilla 

and want no control. Some want hy- 
drilla controlled by a particular 
method. Still others dislike any plant 
in the water and want everything 
that is green and growing to disap- 
pear regardless of the method. The 
debate will continue, but the facts 
cannot be denied. With no control, 
hydrilla will continue to leapfrog 
from one water body to another and 
may eventually be coming to a 
pond, lake, or stream near you. 

Some readers may have made up 
their minds already that hydrilla is a 
problem for a select few, and really 
doesn't affect them. Unfortunately, 
that's not true. Wliether you know it 
or not, you are paying for hydrilla 
control, and it is a very expensive 
proposition. In Virginia, well-estab- 
lished colonies of hydrilla already 
exist in the Potomac River, Lake 
Anna, Lake Gaston and Buggs Is- 
land Lake, and control costs are 
mounting. The bulk of these control 
costs are paid by local, state, and fed- 
eral tax dollars. Millions of dollars 
are spent annually in Florida alone 
to manage this plant. Unless the ob- 
jective of everyone involved is to ef- 
fectively manage hydrilla in infested 
waters and to prevent its spread to 
new waters, these costs will contin- 
ue to climb. 

Unfortunately, many exotic intro- 
ductions occur either through igno- 
rance or carelessness. This is espe- 
cially true for hydrilla. Education 
will be the key to successfully man- 
aging exotic plants. 

As is the case with other exotics, 
prevention is the best medicine. 
There are a few simple precautions 
that everyone can take. Always 
check your boat trailer, motor and 
live well for plant fragments before 
leaving an infested body of water. 
Remove these fragments and prop- 
erly dispose of them. Inform others 
about the problems associated with 
spreading hydrilla to new waters 
and the benefit of native plants. 
Through proper education and a lit- 
tle common sense, you can help to 
repel the hydrilla invasion. D 

William B. Kittrell, Jr. is a fisheries biologist 
supervisor with the Department's Fisheries 
Division. He works out of the Farmville office. 


Bad and 

The rest of the story 

by Rick Eades and 
Ed Steinkoenig 

While hydrilla makes the 
headlines as it spreads 
across the state's water- 
ways, thousands of Virginians are 
dealing with other types of aquatic 
vegetation in their own backyards. 
With few exceptions, every lake, 
pond, slough or ditch in Virginia has 
some type of aquatic life in it, and 
more often than not it includes 
aquatic plants and algae. With ac- 
ceptable water quality, available nu- 
trients and some sunshine, any body 
of water can support aquatic vegeta- 
tic^n — sometimes, too much! 

As a pond owner, you must de- 
termine the primary purpose of the 
pond. For example, was it built for 
swimming or fishing or a source of 
water for cattle and other livestock? 
Perhaps a combination of these 

As a general rule, fishing ponds 
are most productive when they have 
aquatic vegetation growing in them. 
However, a pond built for swim- 
ming and boating should be weed- 
free. Multi-use ponds should sup- 
port acjuatic vegetation densities be- 
tween 10 and 20 percent of the 
pond's area. 

Anglers sometimes complain 
about getting their lures caught up 



Milfoil (above, bnlniici\^cd and right, top'} /> tin 
example of submerged aquatic vegetation 
(SAV) — and ducks loz'e it! Filamentous algae 
(bottom left) grozos unnoticed along the bottom 
of the pond, only to float to the surface after 
dying. It must be manually removed or allowed to 

in the weeds. Having to pull wet, 
sometimes smelly, plants off a treble 
hook isn't exactly fun, but getting 
rid of those plants might mean sacri- 
ficing some of those fish they're try- 
ing to catch. Remember when Back 
Bay was almost completely covered 
with milfoil back in the 70's? While 
boating was a bit troublesome, the 
fishing and waterfowl hunting was 
the best around! When the milfoil 
died off, the ducks left and the fish 
populations declined. You won't 
hear many people cursing acjuatic 
vegetahon around Back Bay today. 
They know how important plants 
are to fish and waterfowl. 

Aquatic vegetation can be sepa- 

rated into three general types: 1) 
Subinergcii aquatic vegetation (SAV) is 
rooted, vascular plants that grow 
completely underwater or just up to 
the water surface. Examples iiiclude 
hydrilla, milfoil anci elodea. 2) Float- 
ing plants may or not be rooted to the 
pond bottom, but all have their 
leaves floating on top of the water 
surface. Examples are water lilies 
and duckweeci. 3) Emergent plants 
are rooted to the pond bottom but 
most of the plant is growing up out 
of the water. Examples are cattail 
and pickerelweed. (Filamentous 
algae such as muskgrass resembles 
an acjuatic plant, but has no roots or 
true leaves.) 

When aquatic vegetation growth 
exceeds more than 50%. of a pond's 
surface area, the pond owner should 
start thinking about possible ways 
to control the growth of the plants 
and reduce it to more desirable lev- 
els. The best method of control will 
depend on several factors: the types 
of plants growing, the size of the 
pond, pond construction, and the 
purpose or use of the pond. Control 
can be achieved by mechanical, 
chemical or biological methods or 
any combination of these methods. 

Mechanical control methods in- 
clude mowing, cutting or raking the 
aquatic vegetation. Mechanical 
methods work well on emergent 
plants such as cattails wliich can be 
cut down periodically or pulled up 
out of the pond bottom. Free-float- 
ing plants such as duckweed can be 
raked up on shore on days when the 
wind piles the plants up along one 

Mechanical methods do not work 
well on submerged plants (such as 
hydrilla) and cutting many of these 
plants can actually make the prob- 
lem worse as cut fragments can 
grow roots and cause the plants to 
spread even more. 

Mechanical methods are general- 
ly labor-intensive and produce only 
short-term controls. Most plants will 
grow back what has been cut fairly 
quickly. If the pond spillway was 
built with the ability to control the 
water level in the pond, winter 
drawdowns are an effective means 
of killing some of the vegetation in 

shallow waters. Lowering the water 
two or three feet each winter expos- 
es the plant root systems to freezing, 
thawing and drying out, eventually 
killing the plants. 

Chemical controls (herbicides) 
will work on all aquatic plants and 
algae. However, they too are short- 
term, expensive and often require 
several treatments. Different chemi- 
cals are used for different vegetation 
types. For submerged vegetation, 
chemicals can be added to the water 
throughout the pond or in specific 
areas such as boat ramps or swim- 
ming areas. For floating and emer- 
gent plants, the chemicals must be 
sprayed directly on the plant leaves. 
To control most algae, chemicals are 
sprayed over the pond surface. 
Properly applied, chemicals will 
quickly kill unwanted plants. 


Pickerelweed (middle) is an emergent aquatic 
plant, which is rooted to the pond bottom, 
whereas duckweed (above) is a floating plant. 
Here a single duckweed plant is displayed on a 


"Properly applied" is the key 
phrase here. Properly applied 
means following the manufactur- 
er's directions exactly as written. For 
example, an extra ounce of chemical 
per gallon of water may kill fish and 
other aquatic life. Applying chemi- 
cals at the wrong time of year may 
also cause fish kills because of oxy- 
gen depletion. The use of some 
chemicals may not be possible in 
ponds used for irrigation or live- 
stock watering. 

Biological control has grown in 
popularity in recent years with the 
development of the sterile triploid 
grass carp. This fast-growing fish 
feeds exclusively on aquatic vegeta- 
tion and can keep it under control 
for several years. Being sterile, these 
fish are not able to reproduce and 
become overpopulated. 

Pond owners throughout Vir- 
ginia have stocked triploid grass 
carp in their ponds over the past 10 
years. A recent VDGIF study report- 
ed that the majority of pond owners 
have had good results using grass 
carp to control excessive vegetation 
in their ponds. 

The triploid grass carp work es- 
pecially well on most submerged 
aquatic vegetation. They prefer 
feeding on soft, leafy plants and 
those growing in deeper water. 
Grass carp are a warm water fish and 
will discontinue feeding when the 
pond water temperature drops 
below 50 degrees. They are less use- 
ful for controlling the floating plants 
(duckweed) and are not recom- 
mended for the emergent plants. 

Triploid grass carp should be 
stocked at a rate of eight fish per veg- 
etated acre to reduce /control SAV's, 
and a permit must be obtained from 
the Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries before stocking. If the 
pond owner wants complete re- 
moval of the vegetation in the pond, 
as in ponds used for irrigafion rather 
than fishing, the rate should be dou- 
bled to 16 fish per vegetated acre. 
The rate should also be doubled if 
the pond owner wants to control 
floating plants. 

Small grass carp are vulnerable to 
predation by largemouth bass and 
other fish, as well as birds, otters and 
other predators commonly found in 


Aquatic pilnuts like water lilies (top), cattails 
(above), and duckweed (right, with wood duck) 
are vital to thriving fish ami waterfowl 
populations, hut for some boaters and swimmers, 
too much of a good thing can prove troublesome. 
Wlwn that happens, pond owners can control the 
aquatic vegetation on their property by 
biological, chemical, and mechanical means. 

and around ponds. If numerous 
large predators are present in a 
pond, grass carp use may not be 

Grass carp prefer rivers to ponds 
and are attracted to flowing water If 
water spills out of a pond after a 

heavy rain, the carp may escape 
over the spillway. Installing a screen 
over spillway pipes will keep the 
fish in a pond. 

Sometimes a combination of con- 
trol methods will work better and 
faster. A heavily vegetated pond can 
be treated with chemicals first to re- 
duce the amount of vegetation in the 
pond and then stocked with fewer 
grass carp to keep the vegetation 
under control. In ponds with several 
types of vegetation, triploid grass 
carp can be stocked to control SAV's, 
and mechanical or chemical control 
methods can be used on the emer- 
gent and floating plants. 

Another consideration in vegeta- 
tion control is dead plants. Obviously 
a pond filled with dead plants is no 
better than a pond filled with live 
ones. While chemicals will kill 
plants, they will not dissolve them. 
Pond owners should realize that just 
killing unwanted vegetafion doesn't 
immediately solve their problem. 
The dead plants will eventually de- 
compose, but there may be a period 
of time when the pond will be rather 
unsightly. If plants are controlled by 
mechanical methods, the pond 


owner must deal with disposing of 
the cut plants or have decomposing 
piles of vegetation around the pond. 
By using grass carp, the pond 
owner avoids tliis situation. Instead 
of dead plants, the pond has some 
big fish (grass carp are reaching 40 
pounds in some Virginia waters) 
swimming around. 

The pond owner should also 
avoid trying to kill what's already 
dead or dying. Some pond owners 
will report a problem of large mats 
of algae or plants floating on the sur- 
face of their pond, particularly in 
midsummer and late fall. Many 
times this will be filamentous algae 
which was growing unnoticed 
along the bottom of the pond, only 
to float to the surface after dying. 
These must be manually removed 
or allowed to decompose. Applying 
chemicals will not serve any pur- 
pose. Stocking grass carp will not 
help either except to help prevent re- 
occurrences in future years. D 

Rick Eades is a VDGIF fisheries biologist work- 
ing out of Virginia Beach. Ed Steinkocnig is a 
VDGIF fisheries biologist supervisor wlio 
works out of the Fredericksburg office. 



by Bob Gooch 
photos by Dwight Dyke 

The skies were beginning to 
clear after a late afternoon 
shower. The sun had already 
dipped behind the blue Appalachi- 
an Mountains, and I had promised 
my wife I would be home early. But 
the interesting visit with Rhonda 
and C. E. Howdyshell, Jr. had lasted 
longer than I had expected. Now, in 
the gathering dusk I was climbing 
into my 4X4 and looking for a place 
to tuni around. 

"Back over toward the teepee 
poles," said C. E., pointing to ap- 
proximately a dozen long and 
weathered poles resting on a rack at 
the edge of his yard. 

Teepee poles? What an appropriate 
finale for my lingering visit. Rlionda 
and C. E. are members of the Ameri- 
can Mountain Man Association, and 
the poles served as a symbol of their 
fascination with frontier culture. A 
teepee is their home on hunting or 
camping trips — or mountain man 
rendezvous. An avocation for both, 
such events are also a vocation for 
Rhonda, a public relations director 

for the Museum of American Fron- 
tier History in Staunton. 

"The museum actually stresses 
frontier living more than guns, but 
guns are recognized as a vital tool in 
the lives of the frontiersmen and 
their families," said Rhonda. The 
museum is pubUcly owned, "but ap- 
proximately 50 percent of our fi- 
nancing comes from private 
sources," she added turning her at- 
tention to some venison steaks siz- 
zling on an outdoor grill. 

I had come to discuss muz- 
zleloading hunting, and as C. E., or 
"Root Hog," as he is fondly called by 



Above: C. E. tiowdi/shcll, jr. ol Aus^u^ta County 
is a Virginia Hunter Education Instructor zvho 
enjoi/s passing on the tradition of the mountain 
man and muzzleloading to the next generation of 
sportsmoi in the state. Right: There are 
approximately 600 members of the American 
Mountain Men in Virginia, of which C. E. 
Howdi/shell, Jr. (far right), and his wife Rhonda 
(far left) are a part, along with friends fim and 
Iris Berry. The group is actively keeping alive the 
American hunting heritage with the reenactment 
of mountain man rendezvous. Slipping back in 
time to relive the frontier past, members gather at 
such eivnts, abiding strictly to traditional ways of 
living, from hunting with muzzleloaders in 
traditional, handmade garb, to the use of teepees. 

fellow muzzleloading fans, and I 
settled into comfortable chairs on 
the cool side porch, 1 began pump- 
ing him. 

I'm a muzzleloading hunter my- 
self, but still have a lot to learn about 

this fascinating way of hunting. C. 
E., however, has been hunting with 
muzzleloaders for years. He is an ac- 
tive member of the National Muzzle 
Loading Rifle Association, and an 
avid reader of the organization's of- 
ficial magazine Muzzle Blasts. He 
gave me a couple of copies of the 
magazine as I left. 

"Do you use pyrodex?" I askeci. I 
preferred that over black powder. 

"Nope. Never hunt with any- 
thing but a flintlock and black pow- 
der," he said. With that settled, we 
went on. I happen to own a percvis- 
sion muzzleloader, but was consid- 
ering adding a flintlock to my collec- 

"Guns have always been a strong 
part of my heritage," he said. "Most 
of the men in my family were 
hunters with a love for guns. Some 
were gunsmiths." 

C. E. himself has built several 
muzzleloaders. His background 
also includes two tours in Vietnam 
with the Marine Corps. He is now a 
federal policeman. Rhonda's moth- 
er was also a Marine, but unlike C. E. 
who grew up in rural Augusta 
County, she spent much of her 
youth in Washington, D.C., moving 
to Augusta when she and C. E. were 

"Rintlocks came into popularity 
in America around 1700, and they 
have changed little over the years. 
The rifle was fine-tuned to perfec- 
tion by then," C. E. volunteered. 

"One thing that concerns me," 

said Howdyshell, "is the prolifera- 
tion of cheap muzzleloaders being 
sold over the counter today. Both 
flintlocks and percussion rifles. Dis- 
count stores stock them, and the 
buyer gets little or no instruction in 
their use." C. E. considers cheap per- 
cussion rifles particularly danger- 

True muzzleloading fan that he is, 
C. E. shoots round balls only. "No 
maxi balls or sabots," he insisted. 
He considers 50 and 54 calibers the 
best for deer, and prefers the 54 cal- 
iber. "I've never shot a deer with a 54 
caliber that didn't drop on the spot. 
Those liit with 50 calibers sometimes 
run off before falling. You have to 
track them down. " 

"Some deer hunters shoot 45 cal- 
ibers," he noted. "Too light for deer. 
1 hunt squirrels with 45 calibers, and 
once shot a turkey at 75 paces with 
one. 1 try for head shots on squirrels. 
1 bag a dozen or so a year. We don't 
shoot anything we can't use." A 
code the mountain men lived by. 

Howdyshell says he considers 100 
yards about the limit for deer with a 
muzzleloader. "I did shoot one at 130 
paces with my 54 caliber, but don't 
recommend it." 

"All of my shooting is offltand," 
he said. "1 don't like a rest, and I 
shoot with both eyes open. A muz- 
zleloader should be sighted in the 
same way." 

One thing that hunting with a 
muzzleloader does is make the rifle- 
man choose his shots more carefully. 



and try for a well-placed shot. "You 
get only one shot. You have to be a 
better hunter You don't see any of 
that wild shooting where a hunter 
may empty his semi-automatic rifle 
and never touch the deer" 

Howdyshell spends a lot of time 
on the range working with other 
muzzleloading hunters and target 
shooters. Particularly beginners. 

"One thing I've learned is that 
most shooters load too much pow- 
der 1 recommend beginning with 50 
grains and working up to what you 
are comfortable with. 1 try to em- 
phasize that, but some hunters 
won't listen." 

Flintlock rifles saw heavy use 
from the French and Indian War 
until the settling of the Rocky 
Mountains west. 

"Percussion rifles came along 
about 1820," said C. E. "Tlieir early 
use was pretty much limited to east- 
ern America. You didn't see them 
much west of the Mississippi initial- 

ly. Replacement of percussion caps 
presented a problem. Lose them and 
St. Louis was the closest source of 
supply. But you could always find 
plenty of flint in the West. If flint 
wasn't available, you could use ob- 
sidian or chert. Chert was a cheap 
grade of flint, but it worked." 

"We shoot black powder only. 
No pyrodex," he repeated. 

There are approximately 600 
members of the American Moun- 
tain Men in Virginia. It's an active or- 
ganization with its members meet- 
ing often in rendezvous. 

"Buckskin clothing is popular, 
but we dress according to the period 
we want to recreate. We make our 
own clothing." No baseball caps 
when the rule says "pre-1840 attire at 
all times," for example. 

"The women made most of the 
clothing," joked Rhonda. "I do all of 
the bead work." 

C. E. showed me a pair of hand- 
made Indian moccasins. 1 noticed 

the thin soles. "Not much protection 
for the bottom of the feet," I noted, 
recalling the stone bruises of my 
barefoot youth in the country. 

C. E. grinned knowingly. "You 
have to have tough feet." The moc- 
casins, of course, are ideal for stalk- 
ing or moving quietly. 

Both Rhonda and C. E. have Indi- 
an blood in their background. "I was 
telling one of my uncles about hunt- 
ing in buckskins and shooting flint- 
locks," said C. E. "Tou come by it 
naturally,'" my uncle said. "'Some of 
your ancestors were Cherokee.'" 

"There was Mohawk blood in my 
family," Rhonda volunteered. 

C. E. tans the deer skins to make 
the buckskin raw material for cloth- 
ing and teepees. "We use just about 
all of a deer except the bones," he 
said. "Sometimes we even make use 
of the bones." 

"I don't hunt, but I enjoy camping 
and rendezvous and the chance to 
visit with other wives," said Rhon- 



da. "And we butcher deer here in 
my kitchen after it has been 
skinned, cleaned, and quartered 
outside." The Howdyshells live in 
one of Virginia's top deer hunting 
counties, and C.E. doesn't have to 
go far to hunt. 

Modem camping gear is strictly 
taboo among the mountain men. 
Those teepee poles in the 
Howdyshell backyard get plenty of 
use. The teepees are also made of 
buckskin — or other material appro- 
priate for the period being recreat- 

"Use sleeping bags?" 

"Definitely not. We roll up in 
blankets or some other frontier 
sleeping material." 

"Patch quilts are fine," added 

Coleman camp stoves, the cook- 
ing unit of the modern camp- 
grounds, is conspicuously absent in 
the camps of the mountain men. 
"We cook over open fires only." 

Opposite and above: To many hunters, 
miizzU'loader hunting is little more than an 
extension of deer season. But to men like C. E. 
Hoivdyshell, jr. and jim Berry, it's a way of 
keeping in touch with a rich hunting heritage all 
Virginians should be proud of. 

Most of the cooking is done in a 
dutch oven. None of the modern 
camping gadgets are allowed. 
That's the code of the mountain 

To many hunters, muzzleloader 
hunting is little more than an exten- 
sion of the deer season, an opportu- 
nity to get in more hunting time. To 
the mountain men, however, it's 
much more. It's an effort to slip back 
in time and relive colorful periods in 
our history. Acti\'e historians, you 
might say, they attempt to recapture 
for a day or so some of the rich cul- 
ture of our ancestors, those hardy 
men and women who were forever 
pushing westward dependent upon 
their flintlock rifles for survival. No 
hunter ever appreciated his firearm 

That's the spirit of the modern 
mountain man dressed in buckskin 
and armed with a primitive but 
trusty muzzleloader. D 

Bob Gooch is a freelance writer and fre- 
quent: contributor to Virginia Wildlife. 



Preserving in bronze what we^re 
losing in the wild 

An Endangered Species Series 
by Turner Sculpture 

Continuing to capture the essence of Virginia's endangered 
species in bronze, David Turner of Turner Sculpture has created 
the third in his Endangered Species Series to raise funds for 
Virginia's Nongame and Endangered Species Program. 

Turning to the wind-swept beaches and mudflats of his native 
Eastern Shore, David has chosen to capture the spirit of the delicate, yet 
spritely piping plover in bronze. Perfectly camouflaged among the 
speckled beaches, the piping plover can disappear from view in an 
instant, blending into the landscape with the help of its sand-colored 
body, black collar, and a black nick of a crown between the eyes. 

This federally endangered shorebird is teetering on the brink of 
extinction, and every year we hold our breath hoping to see signs of 
recovery. One-quarter of the East Coast piping plover population nests 
on the beaches of Virginia's barrier islands, struggling to increase its 
numbers amid the hardships of habitat loss, nest destruction, and 
predators hungry for a meal of eggs or tiny young. 

Like the Northern flying squirrel (featured above) and the sold-out 
Bewick's wren sculpture, a limited edition of 200 piping plovers will be 
cast and sold solely to benefit Virginia's Nongame and Endangered 
Species Program, the program responsible for the management and 
protection of all the Commonwealth's rare 
and endangered wildlife. The 
money raised from the sale of 
the three sculptures will 
provide the program with 
over 1/lOthof its 
present operating 

Each sculpture has a 
purchase price of $325. Turner 
Sculpture will receive $175 to 
cover their production costs, while 
the remaining $150 will be sent 

Note: if you have already 
purchased a Bewick's wren or 
Northern flying squirrel and 
would like the same limited 
edition number in the piping 
plover, please send in your order 
as soon as possible. 

Photo of piping plover 
approximates actual size. 

Northern flying squirrel /height: 7 inches) 
by David Turner. 

to the Virginia Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries as 
your contribution to 
Virginia's Nongame and 
Endangered Species Fund. 
A tax advisor should be 
consulted regarding the 
personal tax 
deductibility of this 
contribution. Each 
piece sold will include 
a certificate of origin 
and a letter confirming 
your contribution to the 
future of Virginia's wildlife 

You may order either the 
piping plover or the Northern 
flying squirrel by sending a $325 
check for each signed and numbered 
sculpture to: Turner Sculpture, Box 128, 
Onley, VA 23418. For credit card orders. 
call: 804/787-2818. 


Nongame and Endangered 

vnsiw CS'A«1Mmi or SH€ AND NAK> n>«B 


Wood ducks by Dciiiiis Biiikliait 


grew up with a fishing 
rod and shotgun in my 
hands," says VW 
Gallery featured artist Dennis 
Burkhart. "My father was an 
outdoorsman, the whole family 
loved the outdoors. Once Octo- 
ber hit, every Saturday night 
would be spent picking pheas- 
ants in our home." 

It makes sense that the 41- 
year-old artist would choose 
wildlife as his subject, even 
though during a short stint in art 
school he was advised to turn to 
a more lucrative subject. "\ just 
didn't feel 1 could do that," said 
Denny. "When I thought about 
depicting things that held fasci- 
nation for me, it wasn't drawing 
a Ford or a GM car." 

It was the natural world that 
held Denny's interest, but it 
wasn't something that could 
pay the bills without some seri- 
ous commitment and sacrifice. 
At 29 years old, Denny began to 
work part-time on his art. ("1 
started thinking that I wasn't 

getting any younger.") For the 
next 1 2 years, he used the early 
morning hours, late nights, and 
weekends to promote Ws work. 
He first completed a few paint- 
ings and prints, then began 
working the regional art show 

Finally, four years ago, with a 
break from the international 
giftware design market, Denny 
was able to devote himself full- 
time to his art. He creates de- 
signs for placemats, coasters, 
cannisters, teapots, and other 
giftware items for companies 
such as Pimpernell, Potpourri 
Designs, Keller & Charles, and 
Kristin Elliott Greetings. 

Denny also has found a niche 
for his art in foreign postage 
stamps. In this collector's mar- 
ket of tiny pieces of art, Denny 
views his work as more of a "de- 
sign project than painting," chal- 
lenged as he is to produce works 
which will be reduced to 
postage stamp size. He has de- 
signed and illustrated postage 
stamps for Uganda, Gambia, 
Lesotho, Sierra Leone, and 
Nicaragua. He recently com- 
pleted 64 stamp designs featur- 
ing birds of West Russia for Be- 

Denny finds himself in the 
woods at every opportunity, 
and always has, particularly 
during waterfowl season. 
"When it come to composing a 
painting," says Denny, "I do a 
brief pencil sketch. When it 
comes to reference, most of what 

I paint is pulled from memory." 

In the mid-70s, he pursued 
taxidermy for a while, and 
learned "what an animal is like 
from the mside as well as from 
the outside." When he was 13, 
Denny began tying his own flies. 
"I've used so many feathers, I 
know what each feather looks 

A long-time supporter of con- 
servation efforts, Denny's work 
has been used to benefit Ducks 
Unlimited, The Ruffed Grouse 
Society, The Rocky Mountain 
Elk Foundation, and Trout Un- 
limited. He has completed about 
a dozen different prints, most of 
which have been done in collab- 
oration with the Pennsylvania 
Ducks Unlimited chapter for 
fund-raising efforts. 

And Denny is no newcomer 
to Virginia Wildlife. In fact, you 
might say Virginia Wildlife gave 
him his first real vote of confi- 
dence that propelled liim into a 
career as a full-time illustrator. 
When he first sent a submission 
to the magazine in 1983, he 
thought to himself, "You know, I 
can do as well as the other folks 
whose paintings are featured in 
the magazine." And sure 
enough, liis print was chosen to 
grace the cover of the September 
issue that yean With that, Denny 
took the first step toward mak- 
ing a career of his art. 

Now, Dennis Burkhart is at a 
full run with his career, and Vir- 
ginia Wildlife is still cheering him 



fi^^'.f :* 






Prime Time Fisliin 

by Harry Murray 

The same chilling breezes of Oc- 
tober which seem to tell our 
streamside foliage to adorn it- 
self with its most colorful attire also 
cool our streams, sparking a feeding 
frenzy by the trout. This is anxiously 
anticipated by serious trout anglers 
throughout the Old Dominion, for it 
affords some of the finest fishing of 
the year in a variety of streams. 

For example, many of our small 
mountain headwater streams 
which were quite low and tough to 
fish late in the summer are now revi- 
talized by September rains. This in- 
creased water level apparently per- 
mits the trout a degree of security 
which, when coupled with the cool- 
er water, definitely sparks their feed- 
ing. Additionally, the brown trout 
and brook trout both spawn in Octo- 
ber and November, necessitating an 
increase in their feeding in order to 
sustain themselves through this pe- 
riod. In order to supply these de- 
mands by the trout. Nature contin- 
ues to furnish the diversity of terres- 
trial insects she provided all sum- 
mer, but now she boosts this bounty 
with some very dense hatches of 
aquatic insects. 

In order to take advantage of this 
fine action, let's first consider some 
of the productive tactics for the 
small headwater streams. Next, 
we'll examine what works on the 
larger streams. Then, we'll list some 
of the most productive areas. 

One aspect which makes fall trout 
fishing so special to me in the moun- 
tain streams is the trout's willing- 


Expanded fall trout stocking provides great 
opportunities for anglers zoilling to adjust their 
tactics during this spectacular time of the year. 

Fall is the time 
to [\] fish for trout. 

ness to feed upon the surface. Al- 
though at times they may appear to 
be greedy, they are by no means 
gulhble, and they feed in a very cau- 
tious, methodical manner. The de- 
gree to which we can blend our tac- 
tics to meet their whims will govern 
our success. 

For example, I approach each 
pool very carefully and try to stay 
hidden from the trout as I scan the 
water in an attempt to find them on 
their feeding stations. Recently, such 
a ploy revealed 11 different feeding 
brook trout, each strategically locat- 
ed on the spot of his choice, in a long 
flat pool high in the Blue Ridge 

Actually, seeing these trout is not 
as difficult as one may assume. Po- 
larized glasses and a hat with a dark 
under-brim are great aids, but fre- 

quently the trout give themselves 

The trout's movement is one of 
the quickest giveaways of his loca- 
tion. No, I'm not talking about those 
which race up through the pools 
after we practically scare the fins off 
them by approaching them too 
closely. Rather, I'm talking about 
those subtle movements we detect 
as a trout turns slightly to intercept 
some drifting morsel of food under- 
water, or maybe even as he relocates 
slightly on his feeding station. Fre- 
quently, this movement is manifest- 
ed to us as a fleeting reflection of 
light off his side or possibly a quick 
glimpse of the light inner part of his 
mouth as he intercepts a drifting 

Another feature that helps us see 
the trout is the difference in his color 
and shading from that of the bottom 
over which he is lying. Something as 
simple as a dark, elongated shape 
over a light sandy bottom, prompt- 
ing further investigation, may lead 
you to the best trout you've hooked 
all season. 

A slight spin-off of this which 
helps me spot hundreds of trout 
each year is the shadow a trout 
throws on the bottom. In bright sun- 
light, many trout blend perfectly 
with the stream bottom over wliich 
they hold, but their shadows seem 
to jump out at us. 

After you have located your 
trout, you have certainly improved 
your odds, but I firmly believe he 
still has the upper hand. After all, he 
has not survived this far into the sea- 
son by being stupid. 

Our goal now is to carefully move 









(ri: «" 

)^'-^i <g^i^'-> 


As the colo7^ turn and fht kaiLb btait to fall in our mountain streams, the savvy angler can take advantage of small leaf dams to catch trout. Dropping a 
Croiue Beetle or a hAcMurray Ant just above trout rising inches upstream of the leaves may trigger a productive strike. 

into a casting position without scar- 
ing him. And, yes, this may mean 
going in on our hands and knees. 
Once I'm located, I pause momen- 
tarily to be sure 1 haven't spooked 
my trout. Then 1 strive to make my 
first cast perfect. I do not want to 
have to make repeated casts to accu- 
rately liit my target or to get a natu- 
ral drift. Such added commotion 
usually heightens his caution level, 
and even if he doesn't leave in a flash 
(make that a splash), he may be very 
tough to take. 

In certain pools in small moun- 
tain streams, I frequently will not be 
able to spot the trout. In this case, I 
try carefully to locate each potential 
feeding station as I work up the 
pool. That is, I always stay low and 
make several casts into the tails of 
the pools before proceeding on up 
into the main parts of the pool. I real- 

ize that releasing a trout here may 
permit him to race up through the 
pool spooking the others, but in the 
fall one should strive to always re- 
turn the trout to the same pool in 
which he was caught. Releasing him 
into the pool below, as we do earlier 
in the year, may be putting him or 
her in a pool in which spawning 
would be unsuccessful. I once saw a 
beautiful large female brook trout 
working frantically over a solid 
ledge-bottom pool in an attempt to 
sweep out a workable spawning 
bed — it didn't work. 

After some of the leaves have fall- 
en onto our stream, we are present- 
ed with one of my favorite, and 
often most productive, trout-fishing 
setups. Frequently, the current 
pushes these leaves to the tails of the 
pools, forming miniature leaf jam- 
dams. These structures are not stur- 

dy enough to actually stop the 
water which gently percolates on 
through. However, they momentar- 
ily slow the flow enough for the sur- 
face immediately above them to act 
as miniature collecting reservoirs 
which slow and hold any of the vast 
array of insects drifting down the 

There are two different options 
for fishing these leaf dams. If the cur- 
rent is fast enough immediately in 
front of the dam to bring the insects 
to the trout at a frequency which sat- 
isfies them, they will hold just inches 
upstream of the leaves and sip in 
their meals as the stream delivers 
them. The angling tactics here are 
straightforward, and we can often 
take several nice trout very easily by 
watching for rise forms and drop- 
ping a fly such as a Crowe Beetle or a 
McMurray Ant just above them. 



The second tactic is called for if 
the pool is wide and the current is 
too slow to deliver the trout's dinner 
fast enough to suit them. Here, the 
fish go out in search of their food, 
cruising just beneath the stream's 
surface. This presents a more de- 
manding situation for us, but per- 
sonally 1 feel it is a more gratifying 
contest. Now we must slip back to 
the tactic of actually seeing the trout 
before making our presentation. 
Once the trout is sighted, the fly 
should be deUvered about a foot in 
front of his cruising path. 

As the water temperature drops 
below 40 degrees in November and 
December, the trout in our small 
mountain streams need less food 
and usually leave their fair-weather 
feeding stations to hold in the deep- 
er parts of the pools. 

They are still catchable, but now 1 
get my best action with nymphs 
drifted right along the stream bot- 
tom. The upstream dead-drift tactic 
is the best ploy, for this assures a nat- 
ural fly action — ^just like a real insect. 
And, it prevents spooking the trout 
since they are facing upstream into 
the current. 

The trout's strike is often very 
subtle underwater, so 1 like to place 
several Scientific Anglers indicators 
along my leader to alert me to the 
take. When I detect it, 1 instantly set 
the hook with my line hand as well 
as the rod, hopefully before he can 
detect it as a phony and eject it. 

Now for our larger trout streams. 
Due to an expanded fall stocking 
program by the Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries, we can 
now experience excellent trout fish- 
ing in our larger streams (some of 
the best of which are listed in box at 

Some of these streams provide 
good dry fly-fishing, prompted by 
the emergence of small olive 
mayflies. There is the potential for 
several different species, but the 
Baetis vagans and mayflies of the 
genus Pseudocloeon are the ones 1 
see most often, the former is a size 1 8 
and the latter a size 24. Admittedly, 1 
usually fish either a Mr. Rapidan 
Parachute or a Baetis Parachute for 
both hatches and manage to fool a 

fair number of trout. These hatches 
are at their best on heavily overcast 
days and I've even hit great num- 
bers during light snows. Obviously, 
one would not use a dry fly this 
small just to blindly fish the water, 
but would reserve this tactic for 
trout actually spotted feeding upon 
the real insects. 

If the hatches of Chironomidae 
midges become dense enough, 
these also will prompt the trout to 
feed upon the surface, but since they 
are so tiny, the trout usually seem to 
want hordes of them before they 
commit themselves to serious sur- 
face feeding. However, there are ex- 
ceptions when individual fish are 
willing to rise to these deUcate tid- 
bits, so just keep an eye out for their 
rise forms. Once 1 spot trout rising to 
midges, 1 taper down to 7X or 8X 
and delicately drift a Rod's Flash 
Midge dry over him. 

The large trout streams almost al- 

Popular Streams Included in 
Fall Trout Stocking 


S. Fk. Holston River 
Lower Pedlar River 
Tye River (main) 
Maury River 

Big Stony Creek 
North River 
South River 
Back Creek 
Numerous headwater 
mountain streams 


Smyth County 
Amherst County 
Nelson County 
Rockbridge County 

(Goshen Pass) 
Shenandoah Co. 
Augusta County 
Waynesboro City 
Bath County 
Jefferson & George 
National Forests 

ways fish well underwater with 
nymphs and streamers. If the stream 
is carrying a moderate water vol- 
ume and I feel I can wade and fish 
downstream without scaring the 
trout, I'll work streamers down and 
across stream and slowly strip them 
along the stream bottom. An espe- 
cially productive area is right where 
the riffles flow into the main pools. 
This interface is often fairly uniform, 
enabling me to swini my streamers 
almost directly across stream per- 
pendicular to the current. Since the 
trout Ue here facing into the current, 
tliis ploy will show each one my fly. 
They may be too smart for me, but at 
least I'll know they have seen my 

If the current is excessively heavy 
and I feel I may not be getting my 
streamers down to the bottom with 
the down and across stream tactic, I 
use the upstream dead-drift nymph- 
ing method similar to the one I use in 
the mountain streams. Occasionally, 
the currents in the larger streams are 
heavier than those in the small 
streams, and I may have to use heav- 
ier nymphs or place a size BB split 
shot six inches above it in order for 
my nymphs to ride naturally along 
the bottom. Since I must see these 
strikes on my indicators as men- 
tioned previously, 1 try to fish a short 
line, preferring never to make casts 
over 30 feet long. It is foolish to make 
longer casts, get the strike and then 
miss the fish, when by wading a few 
feet closer, one could control the 
shorter drift better and catch the 

The heavy pocket waters, where 
strong currents zip around under- 
water boulders, will often yield 
some large trout to size 8 Bitch Creek 
nymphs and Casual Dress nymphs 
fished upstream in tliis manner. 

As you can see, fall is by no means 
the time of the year to stow away 
your trout tackle. Rather, it is the 
time to revitalize it with new leaders 
and fresh flies and search out the 
frolicking trout in all the grandeur 
fall affords. □ 

Ham/ Murray is a frequent contributor 
and among other pursuits, he teaches fish- 
ing and fly-tying in Edinburg, Virginia. 




■:■■ f • '■£;y^:-jr-.-: 




by Steve Ausband 

• y^ ^^ r. Bill McCar- 

M W *y'^ home in 

^^^m^^0^ Halifax Coun- 
ty is, you might say, oriented 
toward archery, hunting, and 
the outdoors. At the end of a 
long drive, flanked by a wood- 
en fence and pastures, you 
come to the yard around the 
house. What catches your eye is 
not the horses in the pasture 
near the house but the 3-D 
archery targets scattered about 
the lawn. Here you see a white- 
tail, there an elk, over there a 
javelina, and around back a 
black bear. They all look, on 
closer inspection, well used. 

Inside the restored farm- 
house are trophies and memen- 
tos of local and far-away hunts 
with gun and bow. On one wall 
is the nice buck Bill's wife 
Hogan took several years back 
on a neighboring farm. Over a 
doorway there is an antique 
arrow with an iron head — a 
souvenir from China. In a case 
are carvings from the Inuit. 
Books and videos on hunting 
line the bookcases. In a comer 
stands an old lemonwood bow 
("My mother's," Bill says. "I 
wouldn't dare string it now, 
after all these years"), and a 


couple of very early recurves. Bill's 
hunting bows hang on a rack near 
the entrance to the den, the trophy 
room. The bows are bare, a recurve 
and a longbow, both by Black 
Widow. There is a clean and busi- 
ness-like look about them, but they 
are demanding. No one picks up a 
longbow, even a finely crafted one 


hunter, it was more challenge. He 
enjoys gettiiig close — really close — 
to his quarry. If he gets a shot, that's 
fine. If he goes all season without a 
shot, that's fine too. He enjoys being 
out there, and he thinks he gets more 
mileage out of any deer he takes 
with traditional equipment. But Bill 
McCarty is the first hunter I've met 

My face must have shown my 
doubt. I have hunted with both, and 
I have a lot more confidence in the 
compound. Still, we were sitting in 
his den, with the mounted tropliies 
he had taken all along the walls: 
bear, goat, deer, and cougar, among 
others. Many were bow kills. Mc- 
Carty was the third person admitted 


like a Black Widow, and shoots it 
with the ease expected of a com- 
pound. I had come to Bill's house 
specifically to ask him why he hunt- 
ed with the things. 

It wasn't hard to get the conversa- 
tion around to hunting. In fact, it 
would have been hard to talk about 
something else, with all the hunting 
memorabilia lying and hanging 
about. Bill's children were eager to 
comment on the trophies. "That's a 
Cape Buffalo," the little boy said. 
"And that's a kudu." The youngest 
child had nothing to say about the 
trophies, but he marched into and 
out of the room blowing on an elk 
whistle. It was a merry den — and a 
merry din. 

I nodded toward the Black 
Widow. "Why do you prefer that?" I 
asked. I guess I expected some sort 
of sentimental answer, some nostal- 
gia for the simpler days. His answer 
surprised me. 

"Because it works better for me," 
he said. 

I know several guys who have 
gone over — or gone back — to tradi- 
tional archery equipment during 
deer season. They are all good 
hunters, and each has his own rea- 
son for leaving the high-tech com- 
pounds and pin or pendulum sights 
behind and taking up the bare long- 
bow or recurve. For one hunter, who 
is part Cherokee, I think it was most- 
ly a matter of getting back to some- 
thing he felt was basic in his own na- 
ture, something he didn't want to 
lose, or lose touch with. For another 

who has gone back to using a re- 
curve because he thinks it works 
better — at least for him — than even 
the most sophisticated compound. 

"In a lot of hunting situations," 
Bill told me, "the recurve or the 
longbow is actually superior to the 

Dr. Bill McCarty of Halifax 

County has taken a 

traditional approach to 

hoiv hunting seriously, 

and has the results to 

show for it 

Dr. Bill McCarty of Halifax County takes aim 
at one of the many 3-D targets he has set up in 
his front yard. McCarty was the third person 
admitted to the Boone and Crockett Club as an 
archer, fotlowi)ig Fred Bear. 

to the Boone and Crockett Club as an 
archer. (The second was the leg- 
endary Fred Bear.) I always hate to 
argue with success. 

"Don't you think a guy with a 
compound is more accurate?" I 
asked. "I mean in terms of absolute 
accuracy, not just the ability to hit 
something the size of a pie plate." 

"The compound is more accurate 
for most archers most of the time," 
he said. "But you can't measure 
paper-punching accuracy against 
hunting situations. In a tree stand, in 
heavy foliage, you can shoot a bare 
bow (a recurve or a longbow with- 
out sights) more quickly, more quiet- 
ly, and from any angle. And at hunt- 
ing ranges, it is plenty accurate." 

You can't go making statements 
like that without having to shoot a 
few arrows to back them up, and Bill 
knew it. So he grabbed the recurve 
and a couple of arrows and we 
walked out into a drizzle of rain. 

"I shoot just a couple of arrows at 
a time," he said. "And always at 
ranges about like what 1 expect to 
have in the woods. And never at 
paper." He nocked an arrow and 
nodded toward a 3-D target, a 
whitetail buck about 15 yards away. 
He drew, held a half second, and re- 
leased. One smooth motion, as natu- 
ral as throwing a rock. The arrow 
struck about two inches behind the 
shoulder and about four inches 
above the bottom of the chest area; a 
real deer would not have gone 30 

"I notice you're shooting Zwick- 



ey broadheads," I said. They would 
have been hard not to notice. Zwick- 
eys are big, heavy, two-edged heads 
that more resemble spear points 
than the fancy ballistic heads with 
replaceable blades one most often 
sees in sporting goods stores. 

"I've had good luck with Zwick- 
eys," he answered, pulling one out 
of another 3-D target (also in the kill 
zone). "They're tough, they sharpen 
easily, and they really penetrate 
well. Shooting broadheads all the 
time is better practice for hunting. I 
practice a little bit every day, almost 
always with broadheads. Some- 
times 1 shoot these 3-D targets, 
sometimes 1 go stump shooting, but 
I almost never shoot at paper targets 
from known ranges. That's an artifi- 

cial situation and doesn't help much 
with hunting." 

He shot the elk, a javelina, and a 
turkey, then the whitetail a couple of 
more times before we went back in- 
side. He was dissatisfied with one 
hit. It was a little low, a heart shot. 
"Luck," he said. "I was really aiming 
a bit higher, for the lung area." The 
ranges were from 10 to 20 yards. 

Granted, 20 yards is not a long 
shot; we were not stretching the 
abilities of any decent archer. Still, 
what I noticed (besides the perfectly 
satisfactory accuracy at that range), 
was that the shots were inevitably 
smooth and quick. Not hurried, but 
a lot quicker than the ones I would 
have gotten off with a compound 
and a set of sights. To emphasize his 

point about shooting from angles. 
Bill held the bow aliriost sideways, 
leaned over uncomfortably, and 
skewered his target. It would take 
some awfully dense foliage to get in 
the way of a shot like that. 

Back inside, we talked about Bill's 
experience with archery and hunt- 
ing. He began bow hunting in 1959, 
using a Bear recurve. Later, when 
compounds became popular, he 
used one, and he had pretty decent 
success with it. Several years ago, 
though, he went back to the recurve, 
using a sight pin for a little while, 
but abandoning it after several 
months in favor of a purely instinc- 
tive shooting style. 

"I concentrate on the tiniest part 
of my target," he said. "Almost on 



Mastering n bare hnv requires much more 
practice and persistence than the popular 
compound. However, some bowhunters find that 
the recurve ami longboiv lend themselves to 
tricky situations in the field that a compound 
can't handle. 

the hair I want to cut. I see the arrow, 
of course. All instinctive archers do, 
whether they admit it or not. But my 
concentration is all on the target it- 

He admits it takes lots of practice. 
One doesn't pick up a recurve or a 
longbow, shoot it a few weeks, and 
then get ready to go hunting. Some 
people never seem to get the hang of 
it. It takes both eye-hand coordina- 
tion and plenty of persistence. The 
results, though, are worth the effort. 

"My success rate is actually better 
now with the bare bow than it was 

when I was using compounds." He 
laughs easily. "Of course, there are a 
lot more deer around now than 
there were when I was shooting 
compounds, so that has something 
to do with it. And 1 have matured as 
a hunter, and that has made a differ- 
ence, too. 1 know more now than 1 
used to know." 

He also believes, though, that 
many of the shots he has made with 
the bare bow he could not have 
taken with a compound. Not that 
the shots were long; all were under 
20 yards, and several were less than 
10. The compound is a better instru- 
ment for long-range work. But the 
recurve and longbow lend them- 
selves to tricky situations. 

"A couple of years ago 1 took four 
deer during the season with the re- 
curve. Three were bucks. They were 
all very close to me, and 1 could 
place the shots exactly where 1 want- 
ed them. Three of them 1 saw fall, 
and the fourth one 1 heard fall, just 
out of sight in heavy brush. But the 
point is, one of those was taken to 
my right, one was taken to my left 
while 1 was sitting, one straight out 
in front, and one off at an angle to 
my left. At least two of those shots 1 
could not even have attempted 
without angling the bow and shoot- 
ing instinctively. I could not have 
done so with a compound." 

For bow hunters wanting to 
make the switch back to traditional 
equipment. Bill recommends not 
trying to go too heavy. 

"You may shoot a 65 or 75-pound 
compound bow, but you won't be 
able to shoot accurately with that 
much poundage in a traditional bow 
without working up to it. Fifty 
pounds is probably O.K. for most 
people. Sixty or 65 is probably push- 
ing it. You need to get used to hold- 
ing that much weight at full draw 
without losing your concentration." 

For that matter, McCarty sees lit- 
tle use in trying to go to an extremely 
heavy traditional bow. Bow hunting 
is a short-range affair. That's what 
makes it a challenge. No bow is 
going to shoot like a rifle, not even 
the fastest compound made, and 
every archer needs to realize the lim- 
itations of his equipment. 

A traditional bow weighing 
about 50-60 pounds, shooting a 
heavy arrow with a well-designed 
broadhead, and used at sensible 
ranges, is not only a challenge to the 
skill of the hunter and archer, but 
also a very effective and humane 
way of harvesting deer and other 
big-game animals. 

"1 had a custom-built take-down 
bow, a reciirve, on a trip out West 
with me a few years ago," Bill said. 
"The bow had two sets of limbs, one 
set about 52 pounds and the other 
about 60. Well, 1 had a fall and 
cracked some ribs, and 1 couldn't 
shoot the bow with the heavier 
limbs. So I put on the Ughter limbs 
and had a successful hunt. You don't 
need an enormous amount of 
power; you just need adequate 
power and accuracy." 

You also need to shoot a lot of ar- 
rows before the season comes in. 
Anyone planning to hunt with any 
kind of archery equipment should 
know exactly what he can and can- 
not do with his bow. Chuck Adams, 
the internationally renowned 
archer, uses a compound exclusive- 
ly, but he has advice that applies to 
any bow hunter, no matter what 
kind of equipment he uses. Adams 
recommends making a circle about 
four inches in diameter and shoot- 
ing at it. Tliat's not a very big target. 
Think of shooting arrows at a coffee 
mug sitting on a stump. When you 
can hit the four-inch circle every 
time, you are ready to hunt at that 
range. If the range is 12 yards, then 
you're a 12-yard hunter Then back 
up and try it at a little longer range. 
By hunting season, you should 
know how far away you can be and 
still make a clean shot. 

Not many people can hit a target 
like that with a bare bow once the 
range gets much beyond 10 yards. 
For a competitor on the range, such a 
limitation would never do. But for a 
hunter, maybe it's not so bad. Bill 
McCarty thinks it's just fine. D 

Steve Ansband is an avid sportsman who 
squeezes in time for his duties as chairman 
of the EngUsh Department at Averett Col- 
lege in Danville. 



Hunter Education 
Championship Results 

Over 100 hunter education grad- 
uates converged on Appomattox to 
participate in the 1994 Virginia 
Youth Hunter Education Champi- 
onsliip at HoUiday Lake 4-H Center 
this year. Sponsored by the Depart- 
ment of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
volunteer hunter education instruc- 
tors, 4-H leaders, game wardens and 
Game Department employees set 
up and run events in hunter respon- 
sibility and wildlife identification, 
archery, rifle, shotgun and outdoor 

The championsliip is open to all 
hunter education graduates meet- 
ing the championship requirements 
and age groups. Age groups consist 
of Junior (age 12-14) and Senior (15- 

This year's top hunters are: 
Senior Team 
First Place: Augusta County 

Jason Shirey, Tim Rankin, 
Michael Burnett, Brian Shifflet, Lee 
Coffman, Joe Eckard. 
Coach: Bill Painter. 
Second Place: Powhatan County 

Steven Humphreys, Scott Law- 
son, Joey Ray, Chris Krammes, Rich 
Baltimore. Coach: Larry Schmitt. 
Third Place: Lunenburg and Not- 
toway Counties 

Edwin Foster, William Johnson, 
Robby Boiling, Laura Williamson, 
Kristie Martin. Coach: Dennis Stulz. 
Junior Team 
First Place: Appomattox County 

Matthew Sandman, Justin 
Hilbers, Jeffrey Baldwin, John Cook, 
Ben Mawyer. 
Coach: Robert Tillotson. 
Second Place: Culpeper County 

Eric Hale, Anna Richardson, 
Justin Hitchcock, Russell Haynie. 
Coach: John Dodson. 
Third Place: Powhatan Count}' 

Mary Daniels, Diana Daniels, 
Sarah Daniels, Jason Barham, 

Michael Burress. 
Coach: Deanna Coffey. 


First Place 

Stephen Humphreys /Powhatan 
2nd Place 

Joey Ray /Powhatan County 
3rd Place 

Joe Eckard/ Augusta County 


First Place 

Jared Hemp/ Augusta County 
Second Place 

Justin Hitchcock /Culpeper Co. 
Third Place 

Russell Haney /Richmond Co. 

Partners in River Access 
Agreement Signed 

A memorandum of understand- 
ing that will lead to the develop- 
ment of 14 river access points along 
the James, New, and Roanoke Rivers 
has been signed by representatives 
of the Appalacliian Power Compa- 
ny (APCO), Virginia Department of 
Conservation and Recreation (DCR) 
and the Virginia Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries 
(VDGIF). The signing ceremony 
held on the banks of the James River 
at Joshua Falls formally established 
the $500,000 Partners in River Ac- 
cess Program. 

The partnership, believed to be 
the only one of its kind, calls for 
APCO to provide $165,000 and the 
use of two parcels of their land for 
the development of the access 
points. An initial check for $82,500 
was presented during the signing 
ceremony. The two state agencies 
will secure $295,000 to purchase 
land and develop access sites. 

The agreement calls for nine New 
River sites to be developed, includ- 
ing portages at APCO's Buck and 
Byllesby Dams in Wythe and Carroll 
counties. Portages at the Niagara 

Dam in Roanoke and an Explore 
Park launch will be developed on 
the Roanoke as will three sites on the 
James in the vicinity of Lynchburg. 
Nearly 50 miles of the three rivers 
will now be accessible from this 

The partnership resulted when 
the release of studies demonstrating 
need for river access in the area coin- 
cided with the Federal Energy Regu- 
latory Commission's licensing of 
hydroelectric dams on the three 
rivers. Part of the licensing process 
involves the utility proposing public 
recreational improvements in the 
area of their projects. 

Traditionally, these improve- 
ments are made on the impound- 
ment or reservoirs created by the 
dams. Studies by both DCR and 
VDGIF showed a need for river ac- 
cess all along the streams, not only in 
the impoundment area. 

DCR approached APCO about 
carrying out their recreational pro- 
posals made within its license appli- 
cations so that they were consistent 
with the state's planning efforts. 

Joshua Falls is one of several areas 
to be developed on APCO lands. 
When completed, the site will pro- 
vide a concrete boat ramp for both 
cartop and trailered boats. It will 
also provide parking for 10 vehicles, 
28 vehicle/ trailer spaces and two 
handicapped parking areas. D 

Deborah Waterfowl 

The 8th annual Deborah Water- 
fowl Show will be held on Novem- 
ber 25-26, 1994 at the Chincoteague 
High School in Chincoteague Vir- 
ginia. The juried exhibition of de- 
coys and wildlife art is sponsored by 
the Chincoteague Island, Virginia 
Chapter of the Deborah Hospital 
Foundation. Cost is $2.00 per per- 
son, per day. Children under 12 are 
free with accompanying adult. 



Hours are 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the 
25th and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the 26th. 
Proceeds will benefit the Deborah 
Heart and Lung Center of Browns 
Mills, New Jersey. For more infor- 
mation, contact Jean Boggs Clark at 
804/336-3478. D 

Sportsmen Told To Be 
Proud and Optimistic 

The grass isn't always greener on 
the other side of the fence, according 
to one 25-year veteran of anti-hunt- 
ing battles. 

In comments recently delivered 
before the Annual Conference of the 
Outdoor Writers Association of 
America, in Orono, Maine, Robert 
Delfay, president of the National 
Shooting Sports Foundation 
(NSSF), told the assembled writers, 
"We must not dismiss the challenges 
facing our sports, but neither must 
we dismiss our strengths. The fore- 
casts of hunting's demise were not 
true 25 years ago, and they are not 
true today." Delfay pointed to the 
growth and vitality of pro-hunting 
organizations, a significant increase 
in women's participation in hunting 
and shooting, the exceptional stabil- 
ity and dedication of the shooting 
sports participant anci the economic 
strength of the industries serving 
hunting and shooting as reasons for 

"My intention in making these 
comments is not to present a view of 
hunting's future as seen through 
rose-colored glasses," Delfay em- 
phasized. "Indeed, with NSSF's 
headquarters positioned between 
New York City and Boston and too 
close to Washington, D.C., the view 
we regularly receive about hunting 
and shooting is anything but rosy. 
But, despite these negative influ- 
ences, we constantly see many re- 
minders of the strength and vitality 
of our hunting and shooting tradi- 
tions, and we feel it is appropriate — 
and important — to remind our- 
selves of our strengths and strong 

"If one were to blindly accept the 
prognosis for hunting forwarded by 
today's sensationalist media, the 

outlook would indeed be discourag- 
ing," Delfay said. "The average 
urban citizen may easily be led to be- 
lieve that animal rights groups and 
gun control laws are encroaching 
upon the rights of hunters, and that 
hunting is an inevitable victim of the 

transition from traditional values to 
more modern and simplistic life- 
styles. As is so often the case, how- 
ever, this perception does not square 
with reality." 

"Like many hunting supporters, 
we at NSSF shake our heads at the 
fact that so much of the news about 
hunting and gun ownership these 
days needs to be negative," he said. 
"But, in a time when 'good news' 
translates into 'no news' as far as the 
networks are concerneci, that's a fact 
of life we must attempt to deal with. 
Controversy and sensationalism are 
the hot buttons of today's media. 
Can you imagine Oprah or Don- 
ahue inviting a traditional, happily 
married couple — with children who 
actually like them — as guests on one 
of their shows? Not on your life. In- 
stead, they dream up shows that 
take an obscure and lurid slice of 
America — like mothers dating their 
daughters' husbands — and portray 
it as worthy of our attention. The 
more sensational and provocative, 
the better. It's about ratings. It has 
nothing to do with truth. Anti that is 
both our problem anci our strength. 

"We are the truth. We are the tra- 

ditional," Delfay said. "We are the 
happily married couple with kids 
who actually like them. That may 
not be very exciting — it may not 
make headlines — but that cioesn't 
mean it isn't very strong. And very 

"But, despite all of 
these disturbing re- 
alities, we at NSSF 
are also continually 
reminded of the 
awesome traditions 
and advantages we 
have as hunters and 
shooters and that is 
the message I be- 
lieve we need to be 
reminded of every 
once in awhile." 
On our side, we can 
count the National 
Wildlife Federation, 
the NRA, the 
Wildlife Manage- 
ment Institute, 
Ducks Unlimited, 
Game Coin, Safari 
Club International, Mzuri Wildlife 
Foundation, the North American 
Hunting Club, the Pope & Young 
Club, the National Shooting Sports 
Foundation and many others. Each 
has its strong and, perhaps, its weak 
points. But, I'm sure our enemies 
wish any or all of these groups did 
not exist. 

"And then there are groups like 
the Rocky Mountain Elk Founda- 
tion, National Wild Turkey Federa- 
tion, Whitetails Unlimited, Quail 
Unlimited, the Foundation for 
North American Wild Sheep, Pheas- 
ants Forever, The Wildlife Legisla- 
tive Fund — and many others too nu- 
merous to mention here — to whom I 
apologize for being unable to men- 
tion in the limited time allowed. 
These groups have all come into 
being relatively recently and will 
clearly contribute to the vitality of 
our sports in the future." 

"We should consider what an im- 
posing adversary we must be to 
those who have been trying, with 
notable failure, to close us down," 
Delfay commented. "On our side of 
the fence, we have some of the best- 
known and most widely circulated 



magazines in the nation. Our adver- 
saries have nothing to rival Field & 
Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, 
North American Hunter, Petersen's 
Hunting and the rest of the fine pub- 
Ucations which monthly speak in 
defense of our sports and promote 
their relevance and enjoyment to 
millions of potential outdoorsmen 
and outdoorswomen. And what 
about the hundreds — or maybe it's 
more like thousands — of daily and 
weekly newspaper, radio and televi- 
sion accounts of hunting's accept- 
ability. Wouldn't our adversaries 
like to have a similar professional 
communications network?" 

"If there is strength in numbers 
then one of our greatest strengths 
surely comes from the 30 million 
Americans who regularly and en- 
thusiastically take part in the hunt- 
ing and shooting sports," Delfay 
said. "That includes about 14.5 mil- 
lion people who hunt only. It in- 
cludes nearly 9 million who hunt 
and target shoot and nearly 7 mil- 
Uon who only target shoot." 

"Another area from which con- 
siderable optimism can be gleaned 
is the increased interest women 
have shown in hunting," Delfay 
said. "In the past decade, the num- 
ber of women taking part in hunting 
has tripled from 640,000 to nearly 

"And the increase is more dra- 
matic in the target shooting sports 
where more than 1 .5 million women 
now take part in shotgun shooting 
and more than 3 million are actively 
involved in rifle and pistol shooting. 
We welcome these new participants 
and the dramatic evidence they pro- 
vide^to the media and to their 
friends — that our sports are appro- 
priate, enjoyable and legitimate ac- 
tivities with a definite place in a 
modern society." 

For all of their highly charged 
rhetoric, there is scant evidence that 
anti-hunters have swayed the opin- 
ions of the average American re- 
garding hunting. In a 1990 Gallup 
Poll, 77 percent of the American 
public said they opposed the efforts 
of animal rights groups to ban hunt- 
ing. Ninety percent opposed the ani- 

mal rights tactic of hunter harass- 
ment. "Despite the negative image 
that hunting too often receives from 
the media, it seems that Americans 
can make their own informed deci- 
sion regarding hunting," Delfay 

In conclusion, Delfay noted, 
"None of us at National Shooting 
Sports Foundation are oblivious to 
the challenges facing the hunting 
tradition. But, we do feel it is very 
important and appropriate to sit 
back from time to time and look at 
the many, many positive factors 
working in favor of our hunting tra- 
dition and the future of the shooting 
sports. It would be a mistake to be 
arrogant about our strengths, but it 
would be a larger mistake not to rec- 
ognize and be thankful for them." D 


I would like to commend you for 
the informative and intriguing arti- 
cle on snakes in the June, 1994 issue 
by Joseph C. Mitchell. It was one of 
the best I have read on those beauti- 
ful, fascinating creatures — good 
old-fashioned natural history, no 
sensationalism, just science. 

I say this as one who came from a 
rural background where snakes 
were viewed as something to be 
killed on sight, and I regret to say I 
have done so. However, unless 
human safety is in immediate jeop- 
ardy from a poisonous species, I will 
never kill another snake. I often say 
that one has developed a true love 
for Nature when snakes are no 
longer viewed with fear and 
loathing. Articles like yours should 
help people reach that stage of de- 
velopment. Nor do 1 consider my- 
self an animal-rights supporter. In 
fact, I view sport hunting and fish- 
ing, when done properly, as among 
the more wholesome and meaning- 
ful activities people can engage in. 
But I do not condone the wanton de- 
struction of creatures like snakes out 
of ignorance and prejudice. 

Patrick Alther 

We used to receive Virginia 
Wildlife magazine and enjoyed it 
very much. Didn't realize how 
much until a copy came across my 
desk to a friend. And at a perfect 
time because of the article, "The Bat- 
tle of the Sexes," by Dr. Joseph C. 
Mitchell (June, 1994). 

For the last two summers we 
have had a black snake living in our 
birdhouse just 20 or 30 feet from our 
house. Snakes still scare me to death 
but somehow this snake and I have 
an understanding: "You don't both- 
er me and I won't bother you." I 
gave orders to the men roofing our 
house, "Don't kill my pet." They 
saw it come out and sun itself dur- 
ing the day as they worked. 

On May 22, when we returned 
home after visiting our sister in the 
hospital, our snake had company. 

Oh, no, not two! But, yes, we had 
two. As we watched the two snakes, 
we decided that they were mating. 
My sister got out her movie camera 
and we took a movie. I wish Dr. 
Mitchell could see it. After reading 
this article, we know we caught the 
snakes in the act. What worries me 
now is how many babies can we ex- 
pect? One snake isn't so bad but two 
or more? I haven't seen our snake for 
about a week. Maybe the bigger one 
was the female as he says in his arti- 
cle and the other (our snake) has fol- 
lowed her trail and will Uve happily 
ever afterwards back in the woods 

Just thought I'd like to share this 
with you. Thanks, for the article. I'll 
send my sister in Georgia, a copy of 
the June issue and I'll keep the other 
It was her camera we used. 


Dr. Joe Mitchell responds: 

Black rat snakes lay 5 to 15 eggs usu- 
ally in June. The eggs incubate in a 
mulch pile or similar warm and moist 
environment for about 60-70 days and 
then hatch in late Augi{st through 
September. But, why worry? They're 
harmless! By the way, male black rat 
snakes are larger tlian females as male 
combat has been documented for this 



by Col, William Antozzi, USA Ret., Boating Safety Officer 

Boating Under Bridges 

Virginia boaters go under many 
bridges without giving them 
much thought. Nautical charts show 
bridges and specify their clearances. 
Boaters should be aware, however, 
that the horizontal clearances 
shown are not as great as the figures 
indicate. The reason is that some, 
which supposedly open to a vertical 
position, do not raise to a full vertical 
(that is, straight up and down), but 
lean inward somewhat. The most 
common of those are the bascule 
bridges, such as London's 
Tower Bridge, which has a 
roadway opening in the cen- 
ter, and the halves raised to 
permit ship passage. The 
roadways are counterbal- 
anced to facilitate raising and 
lowering as required. The 
name, bascule, comes from 
the French word for seesaw. 

Some bascule bridges are 
single lift-span and others are 
double lift-span. If the raised 
portion of the bridge opened 
to a truly vertical position of 
90°, there would be no prob- 
lem, but some open to a posi- 
tion of only 60°. The reasons 
for not opening to straight-up 
positions are many and var- 
ied. Some bascule bridges 
were not designed to open 
fully. Bridge tenders some- 
times open only one span of a 
double-span bridge because 
that is all the space required 
for a small boat to pass 
through. Equipment failure 
due to age and poor mainte- 
nance is a contributing factor 
in many cases. Weather ex- 

tremes and power failures are other 
causes. Capricious operation by 
bridge tenders can also cause 
bridges to open only partially. What- 
ever the cause, the horizontal clear- 
ances for bridges shown on nautical 
charts are not always the clearance 
available to a transiting vessel. 

The National Transportation 
Safety Board has recognized the 
problems and has issued recom- 
mendations to the Coast and Geode- 

Virf^iniii boaters slumld ut-c i,,,!,,,',, .. 
rcgardiii^^ available bridge clearaiiees. 
think i/ou da. Photo by Lee Walker. 

lien eoiisulting nautical charts 
You may not have the clearance you 

tic Survey regarding nautical chart 
information. The U. S. Coast Guard 
has directed the owners of bascule 
bridges to remeasure the openings 
and provide correct updated and 
correct information for nautical 
charts and related publications. 

Restrictive clearance measure- 
ments are being published in 
"Bridges Over Nautical Waters of 
the United States Completion Re- 
ports." Those reports are reviewed 
by Coast and Geodetic Survey car- 
tographers. In addition, the 
following cautionary note 
will be added to all of their 
nautical products depicting 
or providing information 
on bascule bridges. 

Bascule Bridge Clearances 
Bascule Bridges Whose 
Spans Do Not Open to Full 
Upright or Vertical Position. 
Unlimited Vertical Clear- 
ance is not Available for the 
Entire Charted Horizontal 

The bottom line is: 

Boater Beware — the bridge 
clearance shoivn on the chart 
may not reflect the actual avail- 
able clearance. 

Note: Some of the 
information contained in 
this article was obtained 
from NOS, C & G Survey, 
Nautical Charting Division, 
Mapping and Charting 
Branch, Cartographic 
Order 002/92. D 




hijNai^iCLj Hugo 


We welcome hack Nancy Hugo's well-loi'ed 
"Habitat" column in this issue of Virginia 

Sometimes the things we see 
most often are things we see 
least well. Goldenrod is a case in 
point. For example, most people 
would sum up goldenrod as a 
plumey, yellow, fall-blooming, 
roadside weed that causes hay fever. 
But much of that description is mis- 
leading, and part of it is wrong. 

Let's get the hay fever myth out 
of the way first. Goldenrod does 
not cause hay fever. Please tell five 
people that before you go to bed 
tonight. I'm tired of taking wild- 
flower arrangements to people 
who teU me I'll have to leave the 
arrangement on the back porch 
because goldenrod makes them 
sneeze. In truth, there may be a 
few highly sensitive individuals 
(people allergic to roses) who have 
an allergic reaction to goldenrod 
pollen, but the pollen primarily re- 
sponsible for hay fever is ragweed 
poUen, not goldenrod. It's the light, 
wind-borne pollens that bedevil hay 
fever sufferers; goldenrod has rela- 
tively heavy pollen carried by bees 
and butterflies, not by wind. Be- 
cause ragweed, with its inconspicu- 
ous, green flowers, blooms at the 
same time goldenrod does, golden- 
rod has gotten a bad rap. 

It's also a mistake to think of all 
goldenrods as having "plumey" 
blooms. The goldenrod 1 see most 
often, Solidago canadensis, does have 
clusters of flowers on arching 
branches that look like plumes, but 
goldenrod takes lots of other forms. 
In addition to plume-like golden- 
rods, there are wand-like golden- 
rods, flat-topped goldenrods, club- 
like goldenrods, and elm-branched 
goldenrods. All 35 species of gold- 
enrod in Virginia take one of those 
five forms, but they're still not easy 
to identify. To be convinced that all 
goldenrods are not alike, check out 

the 14 pages of goldenrods in Peter- 
son and McKenny's A Field Guide to 
Wildfloivers of Northeastern and North- 
central Nortli America. 

Even the common names of gold- 
enrods testify to the wealth of what 
to look for in these plants. There's a 
rough-stemmed goldenrod, a blue- 
stemmed goldenrod, and a golden- 
rod with an angled stem called the 
zigzag goldenrod. Sweet goldenrod 
iS. odora) has leaves that smeU Uke 

Goldenrod isn't just (7 roadside weed, and it doesn't 
cause hay fever'. Staff photo. 

anise when crushed; seaside golden- 
rod (S. sempervirens) blooms you- 
know-where. There's an early gold- 
enrod, S. jnncea, that blooms as early 
as June (proving not all goldenrods 
are "fall-blooming"), and a late 
goldenrod, S. gigantea, that's still 
blooming in November. There's 
even a goldenrod that isn't golden. 
Silverrod (S. bicolor) has a grayish 
stem and white or cream-colored 

Summing up goldenrods as road- 
side weeds also underestimates 
them. Yes, goldenrod grows along 
roadsides, in poor soils, and in aban- 
doned fields. That's why there's 
more goldenrod in North America 
now than there was when the set- 
tlers landed. But goldenrods also oc- 
cupy bogs, barrens, meadows, 
woodlands, and gardens. The En- 
glish, who knew a gooci tiling when 
they saw it, were quick to send gold- 

enrod back home when they discov- 
ered it, and it has been a treasured 
garden plant in Northern Europe 
ever since. In England, no one 
would think of banishing goldenrod 
to the back porch; there it graces ta- 
bles in fine hotels. 

I'd be satisfied just to get golden- 
rod into more American gardens, 
because not only is it a beautiful 
plant in the landscape, it's also a 
great wildlife plant. Goldfinches, 
juncos, and sparrows eat golden- 
rod seeds, and the flowers are an 
important nectar source for hon- 
eybees and butterflies. Wildlife 
gardener Robert Dennis reports 
having seen 16 species of butter- 
flies nectaring at goldenrod, and 
it's easy to see why. When I look 
at the way the plumes of my 
Canada goldenrod radiate out 
from the central stem, what I see 
is an elaborate series of runways 
(tliink Atlanta airport) inviting a 
butterfly landing. Goldenrod is 
particularly valuable to migrating 
monarchs because it blooms as 
they're winging their way south. 

Garden uses of goldenrod are 
myriad. You can make a mini-mead- 
ow of plants like goldenrod, asters, 
boneset, and ironweed, or use it as a 
backdrop for shorter plants in the 
regular border. Give it plenty of 
room, equally aggressive neighbors, 
or occasional root pruning, because 
most species spread. Goldenrod 
grows in just about any soil and will 
tolerate a surprising amount of 

All this and medicinal, too. 
Fevers, snakebites, cramps, burns, 
and "wounds within" are all ail- 
ments that have at one time or an- 
other been treated with leaves, flow- 
ers, or roots of goldenrod. The 
plant's genus name, Solidago, means 
"to make whole" or "to heal." Gold- 
enrod powder was once imported to 
London for its healing power. 
Yellow roadside weed, indeed. D 

By Joan Cone 

Wood Ducks-Lovely To Look At, 
Delightful To Eat 

Along with teal, the earliest of 
migrants, wood duck popula- 
tions have been restored by sports- 
men who successfully provided 
nesting boxes over water to replace 
the old hollow trees which have 
mostly vanished. These puddle 
ducks, including mallards and 
blacks which follow them, are 
among the most delicious of all wa- 

For the following meal, you will 
need the breasts of three to four 
wood ducks, eight teal, or three to 
four mallards and blacks. After re- 
moving the breasts, skin, debone 
and split them so that each water- 
fowl provides two nice pieces of 
breast for the following recipe. 


Pumpkin-Corn Chowder 

Duck Wellington 

Quick Spmnish Rice 

Carrots And Snoio Pens With Maple 

Syrup And Pecans 

Spiced Fall Pears 

Pumpkin-Corn Chowder 

V4 cup margarine or butter 
V-i cup chopped onion 
V4 cup biscuit baking mix 
Vi teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1 can (I41/2 ounces) chicken broth 

2 cups mashed cooked or canned 

1 cup half-and-half 
Vs teaspoon red pepper sauce 
1 can (8 ounces) whole kernel com, 
und rained 

Heat margarine in 3-quart 
saucepan until melted. Cook and 
stir onion in margarine over medi- 
um heat until tender, about 5 min- 
utes; stir in baking mix and nutmeg. 
Remove from heat and gradually 
stir in chicken broth. Heat to boiling 
over medium heat, stirring con- 
stantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; re- 
duce heat. Stir in remaining ingredi- 
ents. Heat to boiling over medium 

heat, stirring until chowder is hot. 
Makes 6 servings (1 cup each). 

Duck Wellington 

Louise Scott of Miami, Florida 
sent me this recipe, and Steve Griggs 
of Williamsburg provided the duck 

8 duck breasts (2 from each of 4 
ducks), skinned and deboned 
1 tablespoon salad oil 

1 package (I7V4 ounces) Pepperidge 
Farm frozen Puff Pastry Sheets 

1/2 pound creamy liverwurst 
V4 cup chopped green onion 

2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon 


Pound duck breasts slightly to 
make a flat tenderloin. Lightly 
brown duck breasts in hot oil and 
drain; chill. Thaw pastry 20 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 400°. Stir together 
liverwurst, green onions and pars- 
ley. Spread evenly on top of each 
breast. On a floured surface, roll 
each pastry sheet into a 14-inch 
square. Cut each into four 7-inch 
squares. Place breast on each scjuare. 
Brush edges with egg wash. Wrap 
around breast; pinch edges to seal. 
Decorate with pastry trimmings. 
Bake on ungreased baking sheet 
about 25 minutes or until pastry is 
golden. If necessary, cover loosely 
with foil during the last 5 minutes to 
prevent bundles from overbrown- 
ing. Makes 8 servings. 

Quick Spanish Rice 

1 can (I41/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes 

11/2 cups chicken broth 

1 V4 cups uncooked white rice 

1 tablespoon margarine or butter 

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder 

% teaspoon oregano 

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 

In medium saucepan, combine all 
ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce 
heat. Cover and simmer 25 minutes 

or until rice is done. Makes 6 serv- 

*Carrots and Snow Peas With 
Maple Syrup and Pecans 

1/2 pound carrots, sliced thinly 

1/2 pound snow peas 

1 1/2 teaspoons margarine 

3 tablespoons maple syrup 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, 

Vi teaspoon cinnamon 

Steam or microwave carrots at 
HIGH just until barely tender, ap- 
proximately 2 minutes. Drain and 
set aside. Steam or microwave snow 
peas until barely tender, approxi- 
mately 2 minutes. Drain and set 
aside. In nonstick skillet, heat mar- 
garine and maple syrup. Add car- 
rots, snow peas and parsley; cook 
for 1 mmute. Serve sprinkled with 
pecans and cinnamon. Serves 4. 

Spiced Fall Pears 

4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced 
2 tablespoons brown sugar 

V2 to 1 teaspoon ground allspice 
2 tablespoons butter or margarine 
'/t cup orange juice 
2 tablespoons honey 

Place pear slices in an 8-inch 
sc^uare baking dish. Combine brown 
sugar and allspice; sprinkle over 
pears. Dot with butter. Pour orange 
juice into dish and drizzle honey 
over pears. Cover tightly with heavy 
duty plastic wrap; fold back a corner 
of wrap to allow steam to escape. 
Microwave at HIGH 6 to 8 minutes 
or until tender, rotating dish 
halfway through cooking time. 
Makes 4 servings. 

*Recipe from Rose Reisman Brings 
Home Light Cooking, by Rose Reis- 
man. Published by MCM 
Books /Wm. Morrow & Co., distrib- 
utor. May 1994. 



Just $8 each. Specify wood 
duck, barred owl, white-tailed 
freshwater game fish (21" X 
36"), saltwater fish (2 1%"X 
34"), or endangered species 

Common Fish -ns*-^ 
of Virginia \a: 

(18" X 24"). Make check 
payable to Treasurer of Virginia 
and send to: Virginia Wildlife 
Poster Offer, VDGIF, P.O. Box 
11 104, Richmond, VA 23230- 

"Winter Comfort" by Bob Henley, a 
signed and numbered limited edi- 
tion (950) print 1 3" X 19 V2 ". 
$45 each. 

Make check payable to Treasurer of 
Virginia and send to "Winter Com- 
fort" VDGIF, P.O. Box 1 1 104, 
Richmond, VA 23230-1104. 

1994 Virginia ^'aterfowl Stamp 
Print by Francis Sweet Lesser 
Scaup swim below the 200-year- 
old Mount Vernon overlooking the 
Potomac River. 

For details and pricing informa- 
tion, contact your favorite art 
gallery or Sport'en Art in Sullivan, 
ILtoU-free at 1-800-382-5723. 


$6.50 each. Featuring frameable world-class photography and useful information about 
the outdoors, hunting and fishing. This calendar runs from September 1994 through August 1995. Make checks payable to 
Treasurer of Virginia and send to: Calendar, VDGIF, P.O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, VA 23230-1 104. 




The Reptiles of Virginia 
by Joseph C. Mitchell. $40 plus $2.25 each 
postage and handling. This is the first com- 
plete catalogue of Virginia's snakes, lizards, 
and turtles. Featuring 63 ftill<olor illustra- 
tions, distribution maps and easy-to-use 
identification keys in 384 pages. Order 
ft-om: Smithsonian Institution Press, Blue 
Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0900. Call toll- 
ft-ee 1-800-7824612. 

Freshwater Fishes of Virginia 
by Robert E. Jenkins and Noel M. Burkhead. 
$85. This authority on the Virginia's fishes 
takes an in-depth look at 210 fish species. 
Over 1,000 pages with 40 color plates. 
Order ft"om: Virginia Chapter, American 
Fisheries Society, c/o VDGIF, P.O. Box 
996, Verona, VA 24482. Make checks 
payable to VA Chapter, AFS. 

Virginia 's Endangered Species 
by Karen Terwilliger. $32.95 softcover, 
$59-95 hardcover plus 4.5% sales tax and 
$3.50 each shipping and handling. This 675- 
page book with 229 color plates, 331 black 
and white figures, two appendices and three 
indices is the definitive guide on 
Virginia's endangered and threatened fish 
and wildlife. Order from: McDonald and 
Woodward Publishing Company, P.O. Box 
10308, Blacksburg, VA 24062-O308. 
Phone: 703/951-9465. 

Virginia Wildlife 1993. $15.00. In 
one handsomely bound volume, you can 
have all twelve issues of Virginia Wildlife at 
your fingertips. A ready source of informa- 
tion and reference material for the young 
and old. Order ft-om: Virginia Wildlife, 
P.O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, VA 23230- 
1 104. Make checks payable to: Treasurer 
of Virginia. 




Available from Department 
of Motor Vehicles (see gray card 
in this magazine). Order either 
a largemouth bass or mallard 
Wildlife Conservationist license 
plate and proudly display your 
support of the Virginia Depart- 
ment of Game and Inland Fish- 
eries. Sales proceeds will benefit 

VDGIF's efforts to conserve and 

manage fish and wildlife populations today-and tomorrow. 




$12 plus $2.50 
each shipping. Wear 
your support of Vir- 
ginia's Endangered 
Species Program by 
purchasing a colorful t- 
your order to: T-Shirt 
Toni Harrison, P.O. 
Box 11 104, Richmond, 
VA 23230-1 104. 

Virginia ^ 

Water Resource 



Beginning Angler or Bass'n Basics. 
$ 1 5 each. The perfect gift for the promising 
yoimg angler. Beginning Angler includes a 30- 
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fish, a full-color poster of Virginia's sport fish, a pocket field guide to fish- 
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Bass 'n Basics targets the intermediate angler seeking to learn more 
about the challenges of fishing for largemouth bass. Includes a 2-hour 
video, tips and techniques guide, full-color freshwater sportfish poster, 
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Make checks payable to Treasurer of Virginia. 

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1 55 v^ '■:?;/ ;V